There be spoilers ahead.
In Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy,’ an unwilling drug mule (Scarlett Johansson) absorbs a stash into her nervous system, unlocks the unknown recesses of her brain and ultimately becomes an omnipresent reality-twisting force. Morgan Freeman is the wise professor who provides sage advice and exposition throughout, of course. If it sounds like ‘Transcendence’ you’re not wrong, but this one has its own list of sins.
1. Lucy is a horrible, awful person
She starts out ok, we have a lot of sympathy for Lucy as an unwilling smuggler, but as soon as she gets to 20% brain capacity she just starts shooting innocent people, and we’re not sure why. To be clear, Lucy kills a LOT of innocent people. Professor Morgan Freeman made the point that dolphins are the only animals that operate with 20% brain capacity – I like dolphins, they’re not like that, this movie almost ruined dolphins for me.
2. Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman
He’s not even trying any more and seems perfectly happy being typecast. Freeman is just there to tell the audience what is going on and provide lengthy diatribes on moral clarity when we’re all kind of thinking what he’s saying anyway. His character seems to have explanations for stuff that defies all logic and scientific knowledge. That’s because he’s Morgan Freeman.
3. Why do really really really smart people have to be all broody, quiet and super-mysterious
Once Lucy develops superior brain-skills she becomes all quiet and barely says anything, as if increased intelligence and capabilities lent to neither her ability to articulate herself, nor willingness to voice anything of real substance. She’s not alone, when Jean Grey becomes the Phoenix in “X-Men: The Last Stand” she kind of shuts off and spends a lot of time staring into the distance. When Reginald Barclay’s brain gets taken over by the Cytherians in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ he becomes similarly unbearable. Seriously, why can’t really smart people just be like ‘Brain’ and do the same thing they do every week, try to take over the world?
There’s a painful lingering shot early in the movie on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel mural, which despite becoming relevant later was entirely unnecessary. We don’t need it all shoved down our throats – Besson tried to make a high-concept ‘2001’ style action sci-fi which really should have had more of it’s few really good fight sequences, in particular the initial scene where Lucy disarms her guard showed much potential. What would have worked wonderfully as anime becomes just over the top, frustrating schtick.
Its perhaps comforting to think of ‘Lucy’ as a prequel to Johansson’s higher-achieving “Her,” a plot which necessitated a hyper-intelligent digital Scarlett – Besson was just providing some back story. If anything this film is a lesson not to trust your dodgy boyfriend Richard who you’ve known a week when he asks you to deliver a briefcase to some dodgy business associates and offers to pay you cash. Such a scenario can never end well, and it didn’t.